Swans | Soundtracks for the Blind | Review

Magnet #27 | Laura DeMarco

a landscape fraught with intensity and experimentation

Born in the New York underground noise scene 15 years ago, Swans have turned out some of the most consistently dark, eerie and unconventionally passionate (not to mention slowest) music around. Soundtracks For The Blind, the final Swans record, is no exception. Ranging from epic highs to the darkest lows, this double album is a disturbing journey through a landscape fraught with intensity and experimentation. Beginning with a barely audible but immensely nuanced melody, the record grows from delicate noise to pure noise to the techno "Volcano"; this marks an unusual foray into disco for the group, although Jarboe's wispy vocals seem perfectly suited to the style. Soundtracks continue to change, from the jangly pop of "Blood Section" and the western rock of "Hypogirl," to the chaotic catharsis of "YRP" and "Surrogate Drone." As unconventional as ever, Soundtracks For The Blind is Swans most finely realized, daring use of sound yet. An uncompromising swan song.